You can be in the office all day. You can be at home with the kids in bed. You can be in your hotel after dinner. The HP ZBook 17 is there with you. It gives you all the power that you need for your work - all the time.

Back in my hotel room after a tasty dinner of Thai fried-basil, and the ZBook is calling me. With a Quadro RTX 5000 driving a 4K, 17-inch  display, I'm torn between performance testing or working on my latest video.

 I opted for performance testing. First run of Viewperf. This mobile workstation screams. 

More horsepower than most people need, but just enough for you?

The HP ZBook 17 is one of the fastest mobile workstations I have tested. In large part, this is thanks to the Quadro RTX 5000 mobile GPU. And it is also thanks to the Intel Xeon E-2286M processor.

The Quadro RTX 5000 is NVIDIA's fastest mobile GPU. It was released in May 2019. It has 16 GB of GDDR6 memory and a whopping 3072 shading units.

It is based on NVIDIA's Turing architecture. it is equipped with 384 Tensor cores for AI and 48 RT cores for ray-tracing. Altogether, it draws 110 W total dissipated power (TDP).

Dell Precision 5540 with OLED display

Hanging out in the hotel room is more fun with the ZBook 17 & its Quadro RTX 5000 GPU.

Amazing GPU power in a mobile workstation. Fully expandable and upgradeable. Loads of memory and storage. This is what the 17-inch ZBook offers.  

It truly does not matter where you are. Open the ZBook 17 and pickup where you left off with more power at your fingertips than you will find in most desktop workstations. The ZBook 17 eats up video rendering and special effects. It delivers some of the fastest Viewperf results that I've ever seen. 

Once you get used to the power that you can pack into your roll-bag, you will never want to give it up. If you are a road warrior with heavy workflows, then the ZBook 17 is surely one of the best workstations that you can get. 

The processor is Intel's Xeon E-2286M. It is a Coffee Lake processor released in the second quarter of 2019.

This eight-core processor is clocked at 2.4 GHz with a Turbo clock frequency of 5.0 GHz. It allows the ZBook 17 to support 128 GB of 2667 MHz memory.

As it is a Xeon CPU, it also supports ECC memory. The Xeon E-2286M also comes with Intel UHD Graphics P360. But  honestly, who really cares when the Quadro RTX 5000 is available?

HP designed the system to support 6 TB of SSD storage and a maximum of 10 TB total storage. The ZBook 17 supports Intel Optane technology for storage acceleration. That is a nice addition for a high-end mobile workstation.

Display options include two 4K displays. One is a 4K touch display. The other is a 4K HP DreamColor display. There is an option for a FHD (1920x1080) resolution display, too. As with the integrated graphics, I have to ask, who really cares?

Highly usable. Field upgradable.

The workstation is a great performer as we will see below. It is also highly usable. Once you open the ZBook 17, you are greeted by a full-sized keyboard that includes a number pad.

The touchpad has three mouse buttons on the top and bottom of the device. You will also find a touch-stick in the middle of the keyboard. I never use the touch-sticks on mobile workstations, and I wouldn't be able to proberly test & evaluate it for you. For those who like the touch-stick control, HP has integrated it into the keyboard for you. 

Connectivity is not an issue on the ZBook 17 at all. The right side is loaded with connector ports for power, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, Thunderbolt (2) and USB 3.1. Along with all the ports is an integrated optical drive. The other side makes available an network RJ-45 port, three more USB 3.1 ports, an SD card slot, and a smart card reader.

HP designed the memory and storage on the ZBook 17 to be field-upgradable. I usually recommend choosing a configuration that is prepared for the future. However, if the future comes too fast, then with this workstation, you have the option to expand your memory or upgrade your SSD storage. 

More than a desktop replacement

Calling the ZBook 17 a "desktop replacement" is misleading. The system is more powerful than the majority of desktop workstations.

The ZBook 17 screams. The graphics performance I see in Viewperf 13 is among the highest that I have ever measured in any system much less a mobile workstation. 

Most of that performance is thanks to the GPU. Throughout the Viewperf tests, the Quadro RTX 5000 runs 25% to 35% faster than the Quadro P5200 GPU. It delivers close to or above 300 weighted FPS in four of the tests. 

The eight-core CPU is not to be neglected. Its base frequency is lower than the previous generation, but it adds two cores and delivers a faster Turbo frequency (5 GHz). 

Having eight cores available, which provides sixteen logical processors, is impressive for many desktop users not to mention for a mobile workstation. And the extra computing power makes computing-intensive applications faster where ever you take ZBook 17.

The 64 GB of memory is enough for benchmarking, but the 128 GB memory capacity will keep your system running smoothly in the real world. Memory capacity is critical in real-world workflows because users typically need three or more memory hungry applications open simultaneously. 

Quadro RTX 5000 mobile vs Quadro RTX 5000 desktop

NVIDIA's fastest mobile GPU is the high-end option for the ZBook 17. HP has also qualified the Quadro RTX 4000, the Quadro RTX 3000, and the Quadro T1000 for this workstation. 

The Quadro RTX 5000 mobile GPU is based on NVIDIA's Turing architecture. The architecture delivers more efficient shading cores and, on the Quadro RTX 5000, 3072 of them.

Both the mobile and the desktop versions of the NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 have 13.6 billion transistors, 3072 shading units, 384 Tensor cores, 48 RT cores, and the same 16 GB of GDDR6 graphics memory.

But the mobile GPU has a 110 W total dissipated power (TDP) spec and the desktop GPU has a 230 W TDP spec.

So how does NVIDIA fit such a powerful GPU into a mobile workstation format? The obvious way - reducing the base clock speed by 36% and the "boost clock" by nearly 12%. 

The mobile chip is clocked at 1035 MHz and the desktop GPU is clocked at 1620 MHz. Performance parity between the two GPUs is helped by a smaller reduction for the boost clock in the mobile GPU with a boost clock of 1545 MHz for the mobile GPU compared to 1815 MHz for the desktop version.  

The costs for the ZBook 17 vary depending on the configuration that you require. The test unit with its Quadro RTX 5000, Xeon E-2286M, DreamColor display, 64 GB of memory, and a 1 TB SSD costs approximately $6500. 

Quadro RTX 5000 - mobile vs desktop performance

Viewperf isolates GPU performance in a workstation well. So while the CPU configurations are quite different, I compare the mobile version in our ZBook 17 to the desktop version in an HP Z8 desktop workstation.

Viewperf provides a good measure of relative GPU performance. And the mobile Quadro RTX 5000 holds its own against the desktop version; even besting it in two of the tests.

Quadro RTX 5000 mobile vs Quadro P5200 mobile performance

Here, I compare the Quadro RTX mobile GPU to the previous generation, a Quadro P5200 mobile GPU. The CPU is the previous generation of the Xeon E-2286M in our test system, namely, the Xeon E-2186M. It has nearly identical clock speeds, similar cache sizes, and the change from six cores to eight cores is irrelevant for the Viewperf tests.  

Premiere Pro

In the Premiere Pro tests, the advantage usually goes to the ZBook mobile GPU. But this is less the fault of the GPU than it is the fault of Adobe.

The Z8 is configured with two twenty-eight-core processors giving it 56 cores and 112 logical processors.  At the time of the dual CPU tests, Adobe software was not able to utilize more than 8-12 cores efficiently.

It would seem that this is the reason, that the mobile Quadro RTX is faster. The Z8 system should be tested with the desktop GPU and a single, fast, 8-core processor.

After Effects

After Effects rendering is demanding. The ZBook 17 handles the workload well. The desktop system is slower, again, due to the same problem with Adobe software that was seen in Premiere Pro.

In After Effects, the slowdown on the dual processor Z8 workstation was more pronounced. Adobe provided a statement saying that future versions would be optimized for many cores. I will be looking forward to testing it. 

As with Premiere Pro, I would expect a single, fast, 8-core processor to be faster in this set of tests.

A Final Perspective

HP has created a mobile workstation that has few limitations. The GPU performance, the CPU performance, the memory and storage capacity are all top-of-the-line. The 4K, 1 billion color DreamColor display delivers perfect color end-to-end for your projects. And should the need ever arise, the ZBook 17 is field-upgradable for both storage and memory. 

The ZBook 17 is much more than a desktop-replacement mobile workstation because it is much more powerful than most desktop workstations. Most people don’t need a workstation this powerful: Quadro RTX 5000, a Xeon that peaks at 5GHz, a 1 billion color DreamColor display, as well as 128 GB memory and 10 TB storage capacity. But if you do, the ZBook 17 mobile workstation can deliver the workstation power that you need. 

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